Well, sometimes you discover that the start of your story isn’t the start of your story, and that’s what happened last week. So here’s the first scene, as they now stand, for Tilruna: Fall of House Andes. Please REMEMBER, this is RAW. It hasn’t been to betas or my editor yet. As always, rights are reserved, etc.
For those that are discovering this for the first time, T:FoHA is a prequel story to my fantasy space-opera universe, aka Tilruna. This particular story is based on Hamlet, in the same way that I take apart classic nursery rhymes and fairy tales in my series, The Yellow Hoods.
Chapter 1 – Scene 1 – Wrenched
“Huh, message inbound,” muttered the dwarf slumped at the communications console. “Let’s see who’s disturbing our peace out here in the middle of nowhere.” He tapped at the display and then sat up bolt upright. He shot a glance over at the huddle of figures in the middle of the room, holographic projections all around them. “It’s from House Andes. The signature says it’s been sent directly from the home moon. It’s marked urgent and personal.”
Elmath lowered her gaze, her eyes darting back and forth. Frowning, her pointed ears tilted backwards, her head started shaking.
“This is most unexpected,” said a fellow elven woman in a high collar military long coat, her long silver hair braided down the back.
“Homeworld Elves are nothing if not—” the Ork captain bit his lip and bowed his head. “My apologies, old habits.” He tugged at the edges of his untucked green shirt. “Bad habits.”
Looking at the two of them, Elmath grimaced. “I’ve been out here for sixty years working on building our first interstellar ships, bringing rival peoples and Houses together, and not once was there a communication from my father that was off schedule. Torma, give me a secure cable to decrypt it.” She gestured at the elven woman.
“It’s not encrypted,” interrupted the dwarf at the console.
Elmath turned around, glaring. “It’s what?”
“Message received. There’s another inbound.”
She gestured angrily at the ceiling. “Play the message.”
“Are you sure?” asked the Ork captain. “This command center space-station has plenty of room for us give you space.”
Elmath flashed a half-smile. “No. We’re leading this together, I’ve never taken a communique without you or your predecessors.” She pointed at the communication’s officer. “Play it.”
Static filled the room before being replaced by a mechanical voice, its Elven accent clearly of the homeworld’s capital, Lefan. “It is the opportunity of the Governing Council to relay that the most honorable Headlum of House Andes, Andes Om Letham, has moved on. His name shall written in the stars—”
Elmath’s eyes went wide and she stumbled backwards, falling to the floor.
“Shut it off,” commanded Torma, kneeling down to Elmath’s side.
The room immediately went quiet.
The Ork captain frowned, his face confused. “That formal Elven talk and titles never makes sense to me,” he grumbled. He looked at Torma. “Does that mean—”
Torma glared back at him, cutting him off. “Her father’s dead.”
“I understood that,” grumbled the Ork. “What I’m not understanding is why she isn’t exploding, as is her nature?”
“If you knew anything about her, you’d know that her father is the linch-pin of her universe.” Torma turned to Elmath who was pale and sweaty, her eyes darting back and forth, back and forth. “Elmath. Elmath, focus. Are you okay?”
Elmath opened her mouth to speak, but nothing came out. She blinked repeatedly, her head shaking.
“There’s another message coming. No, wait, the relay is saying it’s a command set.” The dwarf’s voice trembled, his beard standing up. “This isn’t right.”
Elmath turned and stared at the dwarf, her expression a mix of confusion and concern. “Stop it,” she muttered.
“It’s automatically updating the entire space station and the ship-manufacturing platforms.” The dwarf stood and up pointed at the observation window that ran from floor to ceiling.
They all watched as the ship-building platforms went dark, vanishing into the night. In the distance was the sound of heavy machinery shutting down elsewhere in the space station.
“The hard-reset should be done in a moment. Emergency power’s not responding. Wooo. The gravity spell’s been broken!” said the dwarf as he drifted from his console.
One by one, they ran their fingers along the runes at the top of their boots and had their feet drawn back to the floor.
“Torma, you’re running low on charge. I can find you new mana-batteries,” offered the Ork Captain pointing at the readout on the side of a boot.
Elmath pushed herself up. “This shouldn’t be happening,” she voice wavered, her face twitching with emotions wanting to burst through. “We’ve never had an unauthorized update. This is all wrong.”
“That’s what I said,” muttered the dwarf.
The Ork Captain walked up to the window and pointed. “Our fleet’s affected too, look at them.” He turned, a worried look on his bald, rough face. “They’re shields will be done. That part’s still pure-Elven tech, communications too. It’ll take them a good ten minutes minimum to assess what’s going on and switch over their weapons systems.”
Elmath stared, the tips of her ears quivering. “This…” She put a hand over her eyes.
“Why’s this console still out?” muttered the dwarf. He scuttled over to another console. “This one’s dead too. Captains, General Elmath, we’re dead out here. No emergency systems, no cooling. The station’s not designed to handle that.”
“My father?” said Elmath, squinting at the others.
“How drained down were the mana-reactors?” asked the Ork Captain.
“I’m afraid to say they were at full power, I checked them earlier,” replied Torma.
The Ork Captain snorted. “They’re going to blow in a matter of hours if the cooling systems aren’t back online.”
“What’s that?” asked the dwarf, pointing at the screen, his hand shaking. “That black line… Please no.”
“Black line, red streaks…” Torma swallowed hard. “By the twin-suns of Tilruna, it’s a swarm Hemogoblins.”
“Our fleet will be wiped out, General,” said the Ork Captain to Elmath.
She stared at him blankly.
“General! We need to tell our fleet what’s coming or use whatever we can from the hanger to get out there. Even the old Dwarven shuttle if we must.”
Torma stepped in front of him. “No. That’s for her.” She turned to Elmath. “Get home and learn the truth of what has happened to your father and here. Bring vengeance upon those responsible.” She grabbed Elmath’s arm. “Elmath! Do you hear me? Get home. We’ll hold them off as long as we can.”
Elmath furrowed her brow at Elmath. “My father’s dead?”
“Elmath! I know that our houses have been enemies for centuries, but if you believe our recent friendship to be well founded, then take heed in what I am saying and get home. Discover what happened to your father and what happened here today. Now go. Go!” She shoved Elmath towards the door.
The Ork Captain grabbed Elmath by the shoulder. “I shall see you off, and I pray that the Luck of the Damned doesn’t follow you home.”
How was that? Leave a comment.